Baked ziti is one of my favorite comfort foods! It reminds me of being a little kid because I would always order it at Rosebud’s in Chicago. My mom never made it but I taught myself how in high school and have been making it ever since! This recipe is my perfected version. I like to use ground pork instead of Italian sausage and I add my own spices (my favorite secret ingredient Cento Calabrian chili spread plus oregano and white pepper); The Calabrian chili is not spicy in this recipe but by itself it is! Don’t be scared of it! I also love to add fresh plum tomatoes because they add so much flavor! This recipe serves 2-3 people.
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 lb ziti pasta
- 16-24 oz canned tomato sauce
- 4 plum tomatoes, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves
- 3 tablespoons Cento Extra Hot Calabrese Peperoncino
- 2 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 2 tablespoons oregano
- Ricotta cheese
- Pecorino Romano
- Fresh mozzarella
- Sea salt
- Olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook ziti in a large pot of salted, boiling water until just before al dente. You do not want the ziti to over cook in the oven! Drain pasta and drizzle with olive oil (give it a stir so it doesn’t stick). Leave in the pot until meat sauce is ready.
- Sautee garlic in olive oil until aromatic but not brown. Add ground pork, 1-2 tsp of salt, oregano, white pepper and onion powder. Cook ground pork until it is no longer pink and add Cento Calabrian chili.
- Once pork is cooked and chili is added, pour in tomato sauce. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes.
5. Pour meat sauce into the large pot of pasta and give it a good stir to incorporate. Add chopped plum tomatoes.
6. In a large baking dish, drizzle olive oil and add a layer of ziti (not all of the ziti at once). Add a few tablespoons of ricotta cheese and mozzarella on top and a sprinkle of pecorino.
7. Add another layer of ziti and repeat step 6 until you have 2-3 layers of ziti and cheese.
8. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes and then broil until the top layer of cheese is cripsy and browned.
9. Remove from oven, serve with bread and wine and enjoy!